A national day of observation set a side to promote the United States passion for flight continues to grow in popularity each year — propelling individuals into personal flying lessons and witnessing the growth of America’s air show industry.
National Aviation Day, celebrated each year on August 19, began with the signing of a proclamation by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 to honor the birthday of Orville, the surviving sibling of the Wright Brothers. Since those pre-World War 2 days, the growth of personal aviation across the nation is safer, affordable, and at an all time high.
“Aviation is more than just a mode of transportation,” said Avgeekery.com founder Jeff Gilmore, a pilot himself who has logged over 3,500 hours of flying time. “It’s the realization of a dream that every human has had which, now realized, connects societies and powers economies at a scale we’ve never seen before.”
Today, there are one hundred military and civilian aviation-related museums across the United States and Canada. While many are free of charge, they likely appreciate a small donation to help keep the bills paid.
Air show pilot Steve Kapur of the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team believes Aviation Day is great for America. “It’s a wonderful celebration of the past, and hopefully it will inspire the next generation of pilots,” he said Tuesday as he prepares for the Team’s next air show in Atlantic City. “It’s a chance to look back, and it’s a chance to look forward and start to think about ‘what will aviation become?'”
Attendance at air shows across America continues to grow including the addition of new air shows in host towns each year. Most who attend the weekend events are drawn by the family-friendly atmosphere and the inexpensive value of an air show.
Military and civilian aerobatic pilots and teams are flying high as social media growth in users who follow their accounts are climbing. Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram users can stay up to date with schedules and new real time images from the pilot’s flight day demonstration.
Air shows have witnessed an upswing in popularity with the growth of live streaming apps which now provides a live window for the aviation community to witness the busy flight line from miles away. Aviation enthusiasts and teams are using Periscope, the live-streaming app owned by Twitter, to both promote and give viewers an insiders view during an air show.
America’s military can also be found on social media, including the flight demo teams the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Navy Tac Demo, and F-22 Raptor. The Navy’s F/A 18 demonstration team’s Facebook account combines updates and images unique to the public’s eye.
“You think about the legacy of aviation over the last century or so, and the amount of work that goes into producing the kind of aircraft we get to fly and the airlines the general public get to fly on,” explained LCDR Wallace “Gump” Miller, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot stationed with World Famous Golden Dragons. “I know it gets me excited every time I get to see those planes fly.”
LCDR Miller, who performed at several air shows between 2014 and 2016 with the Navy’s TAC Demo Team, sees Aviation Day as an awareness for today’s youth. “I hope it will inspire the next generation to be involved in the aviation industry whether that’s engineers, pilots, or maintainers.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses the day to promote aviation around the world with special social media events. NASA is encouraging the public to “spread your wings” and share a photograph via social media taken at an airport or aboard an aircraft to celebrate the day. The agency will follow #NationalAviationDay and #SpreadYourWings on various social media outlets.
“Our heritage in aviation research goes back more than 100 years,” NASA aviation spokesperson Karen Rugg explained. “We’ve helped air travel become a safe, reliable form of transportation. But we’re not finished. We’re working to transform aviation into something even better by perfecting new technologies, including those that could lead to shape-shifting wings, electric propulsion and the return of commercial supersonic flight.”
Since the first untethered hot air balloon flight by two French men in November 1783; the Wright Brothers first powered aircraft flight in December 1903, and the first landing on the Moon by Armstrong and Aldrin in 1969, humankind has looked skyward to travel. Today, private, commercial and military aircraft will take to the skies around the planet while six humans continue living and working in space.
“Aviation has been important to me since I was five years-old, and my inspiration while in addition to watching all the military aircraft fly, was my uncle who flew tran-Atlantic flights,” Kapur recalled.
“When he would land at Kennedy Airport, my dad and I would drive out to see him, and he would take me into the 707 cockpit. He placed me in the captains chair and he would sit beside me and he would run through the checklist with me. It’s a wonderful memory I have of him.”
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)